Microsoft Planner, Lists, To Do, and Tasks in Teams: What do they do?

March 22nd, 2021
Microsoft Planner, Lists, To Do, and Tasks in Teams: What do they do?

Task management is an inescapable part of project management — and of professional life. It’s a way for individuals and teams to lay out the things that need to get done and keep track of them all.

There are many task management apps out there, but since Microsoft does not want their Microsoft 365 users to leave their platform, they’re offering four apps of their own. These are Microsoft Planner, Lists, To Do, and Tasks in Teams. While they are distinct from one another, they have a bit of overlap, so using them may be confusing at the get-go. They’re better thought of as different tools for different jobs, so here’s a brief primer to help you pick the right tool every time.

For team-based projects, use Microsoft Planner

If you’re familiar with physical Kanban boards and the apps that are based on these boards, then you won’t have any problems using Microsoft Planner. With it, you can easily create project boards called Plans for any of your Microsoft 365 Groups, be it your Outlook group, Teams team, or Yammer community. You can also fill up Plans with tasks, provide information about each task, and assign tasks to project team members.

Other than the board view, the Planner also provides calendar and personal views. The calendar view shows tasks based on when these are due, whereas the personal view allows people to see only their deliverables across Plans and Groups.

For creating custom lists for your teams, use Microsoft Lists

If you’ve used SharePoint lists before, Microsoft Lists is what it is in app form, but with a much-improved user interface. While one can argue that a Kanban board is already a list, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many other types of lists — and Lists lets you create these with ease.

Lists has templates for you to choose from, or you can create your own custom tables. Many popular uses include tracking customer issues, monitoring inventory, and making event and travel itineraries. People who have been using Excel to create such lists can now revel in the functionalities that Excel can’t provide, such as tickboxes that allow users to mark a task as done. Speaking of Excel, users can import their spreadsheets into Lists to turn those sheets into more user-friendly lists.

Another nifty Lists feature is that you can add a List as a tab in your Teams team. This way, the List is easily accessible by every member of that team.

To track personal tasks, use Microsoft To Do

Microsoft acquired the Wunderlist app to replace Outlook’s tasks section with a standalone app. Rebranded as To Do, this app exists to help you have one place where you can see all of your tasks across all the Microsoft apps you use.

To view all of your tasks in Microsoft Teams, use Tasks in Teams

Tasks is an app within the larger Teams app and allows Teams users to have a place where they can view their Planner and To Do tasks. In fact, when you install this app, you’ll find that its full name is “Tasks by Planner and To Do.” Once you have it installed for your Teams team, you and your teammates can do some of the things you can do on Planner and To Do without actually having to open those apps separately.

Specifically, you can:

  • Create a Planner Plan.
  • Create and assign tasks to yourself and to others.
  • Keep track of tasks assigned to you and to the rest of the team.

Microsoft Teams recently enjoyed a surge in popularity, thanks to organizations adopting remote work policies. This means that Microsoft is focusing its efforts on providing value for Teams users — and we may see Microsoft streamline their task management apps for such users (or Microsoft 365 users in general) as a result.

Whatever Microsoft decides, trust that HERO Managed Services LLC will be there to help you navigate through the changes and help you adjust your IT processes and strategies as needed to increase productivity. Schedule a consultation with our IT experts today.


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